Day 1 of qualifying for the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago is over, and there have been no surprises so far. Perhaps the match of the day was Lee Connell vesus Brian Simpson. Connell is always energetic on the court, so very compelling to watch, while Simpson's court demeanor is very calm.
Simpson won the first game, 11-9, and was up 9-2 in game two, but Connell didn't quit, and he came back to level the match by winning game 2, 11-9. They then traded games with lop sided scores, as Simpson won game 3, 11-4, and Connell took game 4, 11-3.
In the fifth game tie-breaker, it was close all the way. In that game, Connell was lob serving to the back left corner - Simpson's backhand. But on his first service opportunity at match point, Connell drove serve to the left, hoping to catch the crack or hit a jam he said later.
But neither happened, so Simpson drove the ball across court to the right. Connell lunged out for it, and hit a down the line winner that slide along the side wall on its way to the front wall as he hit the floor. Connell said afterwards it was a lucky shot, but it's the kind of result that his effort often produces.
In other action, Cliff Swain showed that the old lion still has his teeth, as he defeated Keith Minor in straight games, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5. Minor probably wasn't playing his best, and during the match was rubbing his right bicep. Word is that he's had arm soreness, which we're not surprised by as he does alot of the work with his arm when swinging at the ball.
The final round of qualifying is set for Wednesday, which will be followed by the main draws Round of 16.
Qualifying action and the Round of 16 are happening at LA Fitness on South Canal in downtown Chicago. It's a nice club with four racquetball/handball courts that's been open about a year.
We feel we should mention handball there as there were four guys out Tuesday afternoon playing handball, while the racquetball action was going on the other courts. What's that, you ask? Why, yes, now that you mention it, they were all older white guys. How'd you know?
Motorola Pro Nationals
First Round Qualifying
Geoff Goldblatt d. Darrin McNally, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2
Eduardo Avila d. Dean Hamiti, 11-13, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8
Bryan Crosser d. Manuel Flores, fft
Brian Simpson d. Jose Luis Martinez, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7
Dave Rocchi d. Felipe Munoz, fft
Second Round Qualifying
Q1: Gilberto Mejia d. Rafael Filipinni, 11-1, 11-3, 11-9
Q8: Kris Odegard d. Geoff Goldblatt, 11-4, 11-3, 11-6
Q5: Alejandro Landa d. Eduardo Avila, 11-2, 11-4, 11-4
Q4: Javier Moreno d. Bryan Crosser, 7-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-2
Q3: Polo Gutierrez d. Charlie Pratt, 11-2, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8
Q6: Lee Connell d. Brian Simpson, 9-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 11-9
Q7: Tony Carson d. Dave Rocchi, 10-12, 11-1, 11-2, 7-11, 12-10
Q2: Cliff Swain d. Keith Minor, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5
Third Round Qualifying
Chris Crowther v. Gilberto Mejia
Anthony Herrera v. Kris Odegard
Andres Herrera v. Alejandro Landa
Alejandro Herrera v. Javier Moreno
Juan Herrera v. Polo Gutierrez
Travis Woodbury v. Lee Connell
Hiroshi Shimizu v. Tony Carson
Andy Hawthorne v. Cliff Swain
Main Draw - Round of 16
Kane Waselenchuk v. either Anthony Herrera or Kris Odegard
Ben Croft v. either Chris Crowther or Gilberto Mejia
Jason Mannino v. either Alejandro Herrera or Javier Moreno
Alvaro Beltran v. either Andres Herrera or Alejandro Landa
Jack Huczek v. either Travis Woodbury or Lee Connell
Shane Vanderson v. either Juan Herrera or Polo Gutierrez
Mitch Williams v. either Andy Hawthorne or Cliff Swain
Rocky Carson v. either Hiroshi Shimizu or Tony Carson
Follow the bouncing ball....